Learning that the customer is not always right

I don’t get back to this blog as often as I should, I know. But I find running my own biz online, keeping things photographed and updated on etsy, making sure I post on instagram and facebook and twitter and (let’s face it, only every now and then) tumblr, and looking after the website, is quite enough online stuff to look after thank you very much. The blogging is something I love the idea of, but never get back to regularly. I guess this is why I’m not an author, huh?

Anyway the label has grown and changed quite a lot in the past year. I have lots more designs and lots more prints and lots more work to do! My last collection was nautically-themed, which was fun to create. I thought it would be interesting to have people vote (anyone could vote, not just existing customers) via facebook & instagram for their favourite prints from a series of options I put up, and for the top favourites to make up my collection, plus a couple I just had to have. But I discovered, for maybe the hundred-millionth time, that what people say they want, and what people actually physically buy, are two very different things. It is interesting indeed.

I had learnt from someone who used to work for big loyalty card program (you know those programs exist purely for data mining, right, not to actually reward your loyal custom?) that people say what they think you “want” to hear, or what they think the “right” answer is, but then many go on to purchase completely differently to their stated intentions – and I certainly have learnt that to be the case every time I have responded to what I thought were actual requests from actual customers. Weirdly I knew this back when I was designing jewellery – people used to ask me for a custom piece, and they would describe what they wanted. I always ended up making them two pieces – the one they said they wanted, and one I thought they might prefer. Seriously 10 times out of 10 they’d take my riff on their request rather than the original request.

This dynamic apparently is very true in respect to eco-friendly, green, locally-sourced, ethically- or locally-made products. Lots of people say they want these options but almost no one actually buys them. Sad, huh? So anyway, at the end of the day I think it’s best if I just stick to listening to myself when it comes to designing things. You never can tell what’s going to be received well, and what’s not going to sell (well I never know anyway) so you just have to stick with whatever your vision is at the time. I have so many ideas for prints and garment designs that I would love some help from my customers to narrow the field, but so far that hasn’t had terribly good results so I’m just going to have to learn to get better at culling on my own!

But hey, I do love my customers. They are a pretty damn gorgeous bunch. I wouldn’t have the best job in the world without them, after all!